Writing and building a medical CV

As a junior doctor, tailoring your CV during the application process to the Australia General Practice Training (AGPT) program — the government-funded GP training program — is essential.

As a doctor, this is the time to tailor your CV to get accepted into the AGPT program.

Both general practice medical colleges have different requirements, and the Regional Training Organisations (RTOs) — the organisations which deliver GP training — may also have specific requirements.

Be sure to complete the mandatory hospital rotations for general practice relevant to your chosen medical college (ACRRM and/or RACGP).

During this time, consider doing a short course to expand your skills beyond what you’ve learnt in medical school and in the hospital system. Once you are accepted into the AGPT program, this will make your CV look more attractive to prospective training practices. Different areas in Australia have different healthcare needs; think about where you want to complete your GP training and see if there are any special skills needed to support the population in that area.

Extra courses and skills to consider include: mental health, skin cancer, chronic disease management, children’s health, geriatrics and minor procedural skills.

Your medical CV must:

  • be clear, concise and straight to the point — for a student or graduate with little professional work experience, do not write more than two to three pages
  • be written in plain business English, free from spelling and grammatical errors
  • be written in the third person (do not use first-person pronouns such as “I” or “my”)
  • use a professional-looking design with easy-to-read fonts such as Arial or Helvetica
  • use sub-headings and bulleted lists to draw attention to important information
  • not include a photo, unless you are asked to
  • only include information relevant to the role for which you are applying
  • never contain fabricated or embellished information.

How to write a CV

A curriculum vitae (CV), also known as a résumé, is essential during your medical training and beyond.

Your CV outlines your experiences relevant to the role you are applying for and helps you stand out from the rest of the applicants. Recruiters can receive hundreds of applications for a single role and may spend less than 45 seconds “screening” a CV.

Remember: a medical CV will have a completely different layout to a résumé for a role in another industry.

What to include in a medical CV

Order the information in your CV so that the most relevant information is seen first. Put your personal details, such as name, contact details, qualifications, and medical registration number at the top.

After that, be sure to include the following information, putting the most relevant information higher:

  • education and other qualifications, including the institutions where those qualifications were obtained and what year
  • professional career history (only include roles which are relevant to the position you are applying for)
  • clinical skills, history and experience
  • volunteer experience
  • research experience, projects, publications and presentations
  • professional development courses and conferences attended
  • any awards, honours or scholarships
  • other useful skills, such as languages spoken
  • two to four professional referees.

Remember, a medical CV will have a completely different layout to a résumé for a role in another industry. Don’t be afraid to list other useful skills such as languages spoken, along with any professional development courses and conferences you might have attended.

Who can I use to provide a reference?

You will be asked to provide at least two to three references (sometimes called a referee). Always ask someone if they’re happy to give you a reference before listing them on your CV.

There are different types of references – professional references and personal references.

A professional referee should be someone who has observed your skills in a professional setting. This can include employers, colleagues, a client or a supervisor.

However, many medical students may not have multiple professional references. If this is the case, you may consider listing a personal reference.

A personal reference is someone who knows you well enough to provide an insight into your character, skills and work ethic. Do not list your friends or family members; ask for a reference from an upstanding member of your community. This could include a professor, teacher or volunteer coordinator.

Keep a record of past activities

You should make a note of any relevant activities undertaken in your preclinical and clinical years. Activities may include any:

  • involvement the leadership or management of any student-run medical clubs at university
  • attendance of any extra-curricular events related to medicine (for example, clinical skills nights, camps, medical conferences)
  • positions held on committees or working groups related to medicine
  • scholarships, bursaries, honours or awards you have obtained
  • volunteer experience (for example, overseas volunteering or work as a first aid officer)
  • involvement in research projects.

Top tips for your CV

  • Getting started

Even if you do not feel ready to compile your full CV, it is a good idea to start with a simple document keeping track of your events, activities, roles, and achievements—even as early as pre-med.

Remember, it is much easier to add to a list you currently have than to try to recall what you have done (or trying to find where you put old certificates).

  • Keep your CV up to date

It is essential to review your CV every six months—you may need your CV at short notice. During your junior doctor years, you will need it at least annually.

To save last minute anxiety, have your CV ready to go.

  • Be clear, be concise

Your CV should be easy for any reviewer to read because they will not have a lot of time to decipher complex and long paragraphs.

Preferably, your CV should be two pages long. Do not go over three pages. Use a minimum 12-point font. Keep specifics to a minimum as you can always go into detail in the interview.

  • Be relevant

You should only include information which is relevant to the role for which you are applying.

For example, if you are applying for an academic position, list teaching and research experience. If you are applying for a rural location, list previous regional or rural experiences.

You can write more information when it is needed for the job, or when the job outlines specific skills or experiences as essentials (or desirables) in the position statement.

  • Choose good references

You should include two to three references (sometimes called a referee).

Always ask someone if they are happy to give you a reference before listing them on your CV—do not give out someone’s contact details without their permission.

References on a medical CV should have ideally worked with you in a medical area (for example, previous supervisors or academic staff).

Try to keep in contact with your references and keep them updated on your accomplishments and goals.